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Southampton announce pre-season friendly against La Liga’s Athletic Bilbao

Shane Long netted a winner in the friendly between the two sides back in 2016

Southampton v Athletic Club Bilbao - Pre-Season Friendly, Premier League, announcement Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Southampton announced that they will hose historic La Liga side Athletic Bilbao in a friendly ahead of the 2021-22 Premier League season.

The Basque club will travel to St Mary’s on Saturday 7 August ahead of the new campaign.

Athletic Bilbao is a club that has a number of ties to Southampton.

British shipyard workers, many from Southampton, emigrated to work at Bilbao’s industrial port and formed what was then known as Bilbao Football Club in the late 19th century - the beginnings of what is the Athletic Bilbao we know today.

It’s said that Los Leones wear red and white stripes after a club representative sourced a new kit from England and brought back 50 Southampton shirts, which were distributed between Bilbao and their team based in the Spanish capital - today’s Atletico Madrid.

Southampton legend Matthew Le Tissier was also honoured for his contribution to football by Athletic Bilbao in 2015, presenting him with their first-ever “One Club Man award” - another link between the two clubs.

Saints last played Bilbao in a friendly at St Mary’s in 2016. Southampton won 1-0 courtesy of a Shane Long goal.